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New Media We Recommend

August 16, 2011

Below is a list of new materials that we have read/watched in recent weeks. The comments are not a “review” of the material, instead sort of an endorsement of ideas and investigations that can provide solid analysis and even inspiration in the struggle for change. All these items are available at The Bloom Collective, so check them out and stimulate your mind.

Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, by Christian Parenti – Perhaps the most urgent issue of our day is global warming. It is urgent for many people because of the small window of opportunity we may have to stop the trend towards warming the planet beyond a level that would be inhabitable by people. However, an often over looked reason why global warming is so urgent is that it is contributing right now to increased violence and militarism around the world. This is the thesis of Christian Parenti’s new book Tropic of Chaos. Parenti documents on a continent by continent basis how global warming is resulting in increased violence and in some cases significant military conflicts. In addition, Parenti points out how even US military planners are factoring in the ecological and social costs of global warming for their future plans, which will rely heavily on counter-insurgency measures and targeted at increasingly civilian populations most affected by climate change. A disturbing but important book for those concerned about the future of humanity.

Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics, by Paul Street and Anthony DiMaggio – Most books and commentary on the Tea Party are usually presented through a partisan lens. What is refreshing about Street and DiMaggio’s book is that it not only deconstructs the so-called Tea Party movement in the US, they juxtapose it with the original Tea Party to show how disconnected those involved with the current manifestation are from historical reality. In addition, the authors demonstrate that the Tea Party in many ways was purely a media creation along with major funding from wealthy reactionary sectors of American capitalism. Besides the well documented dissection of this so-called modern movement, the book frames the Tea Party within the boundaries of current political debate in the US demonstrating that there is no real populist movement from wither the Right or the Left and that the Tea Party (like MoveOn) is intrinsically part of the two party system and not representative of grassroots political opposition. An important book to read before the 2012 election madness.

Queer (In)justice: The Criminalizing of LGBT People in the United States, by Joey Morgol, Andrea Ritchie and Kay Whitlock – Over the past 6 months while doing research for the People’s History of the LGBTQ community Project in Grand Rapids we have learned some amazing things. The fight for LGBTQ equality is still going on today, but the emphasis might not be where it should be. This book by 3 authors/activists demonstrates that one of the most pressing issues for the LGBTQ community is how Queers are criminalized within the US “criminal justice” system. The authors make a compelling argument about how the LGBTQ is targeted by law enforcement and how the legal system still criminalizes people who challenge heterosexual norms. Queer (In)justice is essential reading for anyone fighting for LGBTQ equality and it challenges the current priorities of many of the mainstream LGBT organizations across the country which are focused on marriage equality and city ordinances.

Freedom Riders (DVD) – This recent PBS documentary is based on the book with the same title, Freedom Riders, by Raymond Arsenault. The documentary focuses on the 1961 effort by the national civil rights group the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), where Black and White citizens would ride Greyhound buses through the Deep South in order to expose the racial inequality that was institutional. Freedom Riders is a powerful testimony of the courage and risk that people were willing to take for racial justice that includes interviews by participants in the Freedom Rides as well as solid archival footage from that campaign. The film is a powerful tool both for investigating civil rights history in the US and the effectiveness of certain tactics within the strategy for racial equality. Highly recommended.

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